17 February 2014

Harry who?

I’ve often thought that in a way, it must have been easier to be a great world-famous philosopher, artist, scientist or whatever back in the distant past, because there was so much less competition. Sure, Aristotle was a great philosopher, but his ideas about the laws of motion were crackpot stuff. Plus, there were fewer than 200m people in the world at that time. So that’s like being one of the smartest guys posting on LinkedIn. I think I could achieve that level of greatness.

Of course, being alive now rather than then has many other benefits, like a life expectancy of over 30 years for example.

Anyway, Gregory Lewis apparently wondered about why there were so many ancient greats too, and has done some math and assembled lots of graphs. It seems that there are actually far more great ancient figures than should be the case. Given factors like population growth, technology, lifespan lengthening and the like, you’d expect a lot more greatness today.


© mathew 2017